Google Assistant Blocks Xiaomi Cameras After Nest Hub Begins Showing Random People’s Homes
Google has blocked Xiaomi from its Google Nest platform after reports emerged that at least one Xiaomi security camera had begun showing images from other people’s cameras. The privacy breach appears to be purely accidental but is serious enough for Google to shut down all cameras produced by the Chinese company and managed through Google Assistant.
Capturing the Wrong Home
The problem was first reported by a Reddit user who had connected a Xiaomi Mijia home security camera to a Nest Hub. He started seeing still images from multiple different Mijia cameras around the world that were connected to a Google Assistant device, including people and children sleeping. After getting the reports, Google disabled Xiaomi’s access to the Google Assistant cloud across the board.
“We’re aware of the issue and are in contact with Xiaomi to work on a fix,” Google said in a statement. “In the meantime, we’re disabling Xiaomi integrations on our devices.”
Real Security Problems
There have been plenty of reports over the last year about potential security issues with voice assistants. Some have been serious enough to warrant correction, like the software vulnerabilities that led to Google Assistant temporarily shutting down thousands of Google Actions. Others are less of a concern, like the discovery that a laser could manipulate a smart speaker under very specialized circumstances. This falls firmly into the former camp, although it isn’t an issue with Google Assistant itself.
These kinds of security and privacy issues are an ongoing obstacle to voice assistant developers who want more people to adopt their platform. It’s also a good example of one of the reasons Google has been shifting toward controlling the Nest platform and devices more, to the consternation of home builders used to a more ecumenical approach. But, with privacy, such an important issue for people when considering purchasing smart home devices, resolving breaches like this and preventing them in the future will be vital for the manufacturers.